The Government has announced today that single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers will be banned in April 2020.
Trailblazers have been working with the Government since we replied to their consultation on the ban to ensure that protections for disabled people were a key part of the new laws.
From our work, we know that some disabled people have been unable to find an alternative reusable solution which meets their needs. We had a snapshot survey of our network which informed our response to the Government consultation and our meetings with them about the needs of disabled people for single-use plastics to be available to them.
Our snapshot survey revealed that the majority of Trailblazers did not support a ban, and wanted a supply of straws to remain available only for disabled people who needed them in the event a ban did take place.
In working with the Government during the consultation period, we were able to secure a number of commitments which will protect disabled people during a ban. These included:
- Commitment for a review after 1 year instead of 5 years to ensure disabled people are getting the access to straws they need
- Registered pharmacies will be allowed to stock and sell straws, and will not require proof of need
- All catering establishments will be allowed to continue to stock straws, but disabled people will have to request one – again no proof will be needed
We will also be continuing to work with the Government as the ban is implemented to ensure that if disabled people are finding it difficult in the wake of the ban, it can be re-evaluated for changes.
The devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the power to introduce their own rules.
As part of today’s announcement that controls would come into effect next April, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:
These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.
Trailblazers Manager, Lauren West said:
Plastic straws are sometimes the only type of straw that work for disabled people due to their flexibility and ability to be used in hot and cold drinks.
We are pleased the Government has recognised this in its proposals put forward today.
Trailblazers has now moved to pan-disability charity Whizz-Kidz (September 2020).